Fear, Force, and Leather: The Texas Prison System&rsquot;s First Hundred Years 1848-1948

Texas Committee on Prisons and Prison Labor, Report on proposed Texas penal colony, 1931

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CPPL Report on a Texas penal colony, 1931



Let us illustrate by New York State: There were four
state prisons for men and two reformatories for young men, all
in different sections of the state.

The state is now developing a classification system
and is endeavoring to fit those institutions into it. The four
old state prisons are used as follows:

I.     A central receiving prison where examinations
are made of all prisoners upon conviction.
II.    An industrial prison for the more hopeful
class of prisoners.
III.   An industrial prison for the more hardened
type of prisoners.
IV.  An institution for feeble-minded prisoners[.]

One of the reformatories is now used for all the young
men of reformatory type and the other is an institution for
psychopathic prisoners. The state also maintains an institution
for tubercular prisoners, and a hospital for the criminal insane.

The difficulty in operating this system is the distance
between the various institutions, which make the transfer of
prisoners from one institution to another very costly and tends
to limit the return of prisoners who do not make satisfactory
progress to the reception prison for further examination. The
decentralization of the system also increases the number of
experts, medical, educational, industrial and agricultural who
direct the prison operations.


The State of Rhode Island, as early as 1860, under
direction of a far-sighted commissioner, established an institu-
tional colony at Howard on which are located all the state
institutions, penal and eleemosynary. The smallness of the state
has made this extreme centralization possible, each institution
has remained distinctly separate from every other institution and
from the standpoints of efficience [sic] and economy in administration,
the colony plan has stood the test for sixty years.

The same plan of concentration of institutions has
been worked out in Westchester County, New York State. Just
before the outbreak of the War, Mr. V. Everitt Macy, a man of

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Texas Committee on Prisons and Prison Labor, Report on proposed Texas penal colony, 1931. Records of the Texas Prison System, Texas Prison Board, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: February 10, 2016